The Tschingelhörner and St. Martinshole, winter 2018. Photo: S. Gijsen

Tektoniarena Sardona: the First Skyscrapers

Swiss cathedrals in Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich, Basel, Sion or Chur (one of the oldest dioceses north of the Alps) show heigh towers, but mountains are the real skyscrapers of the country.

Millions of years ago, the collisions of slabs of Africa and Europe created the for Alps.

The Tectonic Arena Sardona  (cantons of Glarus, St. Gall and Graubünden) shows the process of the formation of these mountains.

Just below the ridge of the Tschingelhörner, at an altitude of 2,600 metres, opens the famous Martinsloch. This almost triangular opening, with a diameter of about 18 metres, was formed by the erosion of a fragile part of the rock.

Twice a year, the sun shines through the hole and illuminates the church tower of the village of Elm for 2 minutes. It then disappears behind the rock before rising above the ridge some 15 minutes later.

In 2008 UNESCO recognised these mountains as world heritage sites (source: